Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Antique Art Deco ceramics

Bright colours and attractive white and cream glazes are the keynotes of Art Deco ceramics. Pottery and tableware took on bold geometric shapes with attractive hand-finished decoration. Brightly coloured glazes were popular in America. China figures were produced in great numbers: favourite subjects were modern women, naked or scantily dressed, sporting figures and animals.


In England the Doulton Lambeth potteries made small bone china figures that maintained a cautious balance between traditional crinolined lady and the modern woman. Figures by Phoebe Stabler, Richard Garbe and Gilbert Bayes are especially collectable. The Wedgewood range of vases, bowls, covered boxes and inkstands, many designed by the New Zealander Keith Murray, epitomize machine age geometry, enhanced by monochrome matt glazes of subdued green, grey-blue and ivory.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Toby jugs

The jug was probably named and modelled after ‘Sir Toby Philpot’ a legendary 18th century drinker, who also made an appearance in Francis Fawkes song ‘The Brown Jug’. It has also been suggested that Sir Tony Belch, a character in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, may have influenced the choice of name.

The first Toby jugs were made in the 1760s in Staffordshire, an area already known for the manufacture of Earthenware figures. Today, one of the most desirable of the early Staffordshire Toby jugs is the so-called Ralph Wood-type. Credited with the invention and spread of the jug, Ralph Wood I produced well-modelled figures decorated with translucent coloured glazes. He was amongst the first English potters to mark his work and Wood signed Toby jugs are particularly sought-after. An unmarked Ralph Wood I jug is usually worth over £1,000, depending on condition, but his rare ‘Thin Man’ jugs can be worth double. Jugs marked with a Mould number are often more valuable and examples signed by Wood command a premium, sometimes over £2,500.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Antique English slipware

Slipware is a type of pottery that particularly flourished in England in the 17th century and the early years of the 18th century. Essentially, it is red or buff earthenware decorated with white or coloured slip (diluted clay) that contrasts with the body. A yellowish lead glaze is characteristic.


Decoration took the form of slip-trailing, applied mouldings or sgraffito. In some areas combed (zig-zag), feathered and marbled patterns were favoured from the early 18th century.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

What makes glass valuable?

The discovery that a simple mixture of sand (silica) and sodium carbonate could make glass is attributed to the Mesopotamians 5,000 years ago. We still depend on this formula today, exploring its versatility and beauty in countless ways.


Age is not an accurate barometer of value when assessing glass. A colourful 1950s Murano vase might be worth more than a 2nd century AD Roman glass phial. The assumption that a roughly made piece must be old, or that glass full of bubbles is an antique, isn't necessarily true either.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Antique and vintage dance cards

Dance cards became popular items at balls and assemblies during the early 19th century. They were created as a way for a lady to keep track of the gentleman to whom she had promised dances in the course of the evening, and afterwards served as a momento of the occasion.


Dance cards were generally made of paper or card, although sometimes had elaborate covers of bone, ivory, silver or wood, and were small enough to be readily portable. They were generally given only to ladies.Often a small pencil was attached by a cord to the card. The cord also allowed the card to be suspended from a lady's wrist or belt.
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